Teens spend fun evening solving murder

Photo by Denette Watson
Josh Prim, 11, of Riverview, in his role as reporter, announces to a group of young detectives that the mystery has been solved during Mystery Night at Riverview Public Library.

Sunday Times Newspapers

Young detectives gathered at the Riverview Public Library, one recent Wednesday evening, to hopefully solve a crime – a murder.

Jaime Stokes, a star high school athlete, was found dead in the bushes of the library’s parking lot. There were no witnesses to the crime.

The murder mystery was all a part of the library’s Mystery Night for youth in its teen summer reading program. This event was the final activity among several that the library offered for teens in the reading program this summer.

The young detectives were presented with the crime, suspects and crime scenes. They were challenged to use their investigative skills to figure out who committed the murder, the motive and weapon used.

In addition to being detectives, some participants volunteered to play the roles of the eight suspects. The list of suspects included Stokes’ girlfriend, soccer teammate, a girl Stokes liked, soccer coach, rival soccer player, school advisor, older brother, and mom’s new boyfriend.

The suspects gave statements about their relationship with Stokes and their whereabouts at the time of the murder. Clues to help the detectives eliminate suspects and draw suspicions were included in the statements given by the suspects.

After a few moments to consider the statements by the suspects the detectives were then shown three crime scenes – the library parking lot, Stokes’ bedroom and the lead detective’s desk.

Each crime scene contained at least three clues to help detectives solve the crime. The detectives examined each crime scene. They found a piece of rope in the library parking lot; an acceptance letter to a soccer program in Stokes’ room; and the material found in an impounded car on the lead detective’s desk.

After reviewing the crime scenes, the detectives reviewed the case from top to bottom. They shared notes, discussed clues and made accusations.

It was time to find out whodunit.

“It was that loser older brother,” another said.

“I thought it was William Keller (the mom’s boyfriend),” said Anthony Caruso, 12, of Riverview. “I thought he was mad at (Stokes) or didn’t like him.”

Caruso, who played Keller, enjoyed the experience but admitted solving the crime was not easy.

“I really liked being one of the suspects and the crime scenes were cool,” Caruso said. “I choose Keller, but I thought it was a couple of people. Putting all the clues together was hard.”

Josh Prim, 11, of Riverview correctly identified the culprit of the murder. Based on the acceptance letter into a new soccer program, the rope found in the impounded car and other key clues he determined it was the high school soccer coach Frank Mitchell.

“At first it was kind of hard, but then after looking at the crime scenes and clues, it got fun,” Prim said. “Finding out that I got it right was the best part.”

After the long investigation came to a close, all the young detectives were treated to cookies, which for Kayla Prim, 9, was the best part.

“Solving the mystery was fun but the cookies were my favorite part,” she said.

The mystery is solved and all is well at the Riverview Public Library until next year.